There’s no way around a very simple fact: I am under trained for Eagleman.
Yup, by any standard, I simply have not put in the base work over the last six months to be really comfortable with the prospect of finishing my first Half-Iron attempt. I am so embarrassed by my under training, that I have made my logs on BT completely private for now, so no one can see just how bad it is.
The main problem is the bike. As for running, I am still a slow, low-heart rate runner, and I am pretty confident in my ability to at least stay on my feet for the duration. The swim will be somewhat of a mystery, as the conditions of the Choptank River are new to me. I am glad that I have had two solid, if slow, open water swims in races this season already. But that 1.2 miles is 50% longer than my longest OWS this year. I am hoping to break an hour. That’s all.
What has really had me concerned is the bike. Unlike 95% of triathletes, the bike is the place I spend the least time. I’ve been on my trainer a lot (for me) these last months, but no session was very long, and I haven’t had close to a 50 mile ride, let alone 56.
The course at Eagleman is pancake flat, but it is also very hot and very windy. I’ve talked to a couple people about the wind, which can be like riding uphill. Thankfully, at least I get the impression I will have tailwind for one direction, to make up for the struggle with the headwind in the other. I just hope I get the tailwind first, to help make the halfway point cutoff, or it won’t matter if I speed up coming back.
It’s really hard to train for this kind of ride at home, except for the trainer. But as much as I’ve tried to embrace it, I am not doing 2 hour trainer rides. But the real road is the best way to train. Two problems:
1. I have had so many false starts getting on the road, definitely with some phobias going on.
2. I live in a hilly part of PA, and with my weight, it’s more of a struggle to get out and train on hills.
I know, HTFU on both accounts. We’re talking about a HIM here, not a spin class.
So, while I am within the two week window of race time, where I’m not likely to make any real fitness gains, and the “hay is in the barn” as they say, at this point I can still focus on the mental aspect of doing this distance. Yesterday, I did just that.
I biked from my house to my parents’ house in Turbotville. The course was 41 miles, but more importantly, it was quite hilly. In fact, I started with conquering a climb I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but finally just went out and did it. I started the ride with Shade Mountain on Route 104. It’s only a Cat 5 on mapmyride, which doesn’t even exist as a rating in “real” cycling climb profiles, but let me tell you, for me this was huge. That was followed by a fun descent into Middleburg where I topped 35 mph, then a second climb that was honestly as hard as Shade, between Middleburg and the winery. From there, more rolling climbs to Mifflinburg, then out to Forest Hill, the dead-on halfway point. A brief reprieve turning onto Col John Kelly road, which was mostly downhill, but I decided to try a new road and see if it would get me over to SR1004 into West Milton with fewer rolling hills. It got me there, but possibly with more rolling hills. Once through West Milton, I had a couple nice flat miles through Milton and along the river. After passing under Route 80, I turned up the hill to McEwensville that in my mind was going to be another beast. I remembered it a lot worse, as it was maybe only my 8th to 10th hardest climb of the day. The next 5 miles were steady climbs most of the way, and I finished in a ride time of 3:13, with two roadside breaks totaling about 10 minutes, so I can say the ride was under 3:25.
That’s not the speed I need for Eagleman, but the climbs were nothing to mess with, for a guy with my weight. As I drop more weight, they will be easier, and I will seek out race courses that aren’t so flat in a few years. (Savageman some day, I know it.) For now, just going the distance on flats is enough for me to feel some sense of accomplishment.
Memorial Day Ride profile – Start elevation 591, max 994, end 614 feet above sea level
Eagleman Ride profile – start elevation 15, max 59, end 15 feet above sea level
My parents did not know I was riding to their house, and I was able to arrive a few minutes before Meg and the kids, so it was a surprise to them to be floating in the pool and see me come around the corner into the alley. They were quite impressed.
I got off the bike, and right into the pool. (Yeah for tri shorts!) I could have run just then, as my adenaline was high. But once I relaxed, the fatigue set in about an hour later, and I was quite inert for the rest of the day.
All said and done I averaged 12.8mph on a course that would have leveled me a year ago. I need to maintain at least 14mph for a longer ride next Saturday, after a long swim, and save some legs for a half-marathon. But after laying that down yesterday, I feel pretty good about finishing Eagleman. I’ll be one of the last ones to cross (as usual), but I am going to go into it without ifs and maybes. Sure, anything can happen, and I can certainly be a DNF. But if I assume as much going in, I will DEFINITELY DNF. I choose to attack it head on, undertrained or not, and plan to cross that line in the time allotted.